Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:9PM
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) is seen chatting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a military ceremony in Riyadh on January 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) is seen chatting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a military ceremony in Riyadh on January 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Burgeoning corruption rates have further tarnished the image of oil-rich Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, a report says.

The report by Transparency International, published on Saturday, shows that Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have all seen their ranking collapse in the group's annual Corruption Perceptions Index of 2016.

Kinda Hattar, a regional coordinator for Transparency International, said corrupt Arab states, epitomized by oil-rich governments such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have effectively failed to improve their legal and administrative mechanisms to prevent the rise of corruption in their countries.

"Despite the political modifications that shook the Arab area six years in the past, the hope for Arab countries to battle corruption and finish impunity has not seen any progress but," said Hattar.

The report said Qatar saw the biggest fall in the 0-100 scale as its ranking slid 10 factors from 71 in 2015 to 61 last year. Next is Kuwait and Bahrain that each fell eight factors, to 41 and 43, respectively, and then comes Saudi Arabia which has been placed at 46, six factors lower than the previous rankings.

Monopoly on power

Hattar said the deteriorating situation of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region in terms of corruption could have been related to increasing desire of the governments in those countries to consolidate their power, leading to more members of the ruling families to occupy key positions in the administration.

"(Persian) Gulf States have dropped on the index as ruling households proceed to carry power politically and economically," Hattar said, adding that oppressive approaches to freedoms and the absence of an impartial civil society have also played a role.

The costly war on Yemen

The official also made a reference to a military coalition of the Arab states of the region, which is currently involved in a war on Yemen, saying the campaign had forced the governments to exercise a policy of financial ambiguity to cover up war expenditures.

"The army involvement of those states in regional coalitions has raised the ranges of secrecy and ambiguity of public expenditure and state budgets," said Hattar.

Yemeni children displaced by the Saudi campaign pose for a photo in a camp on the outskirts of the southern city of Ta’izz on January 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A global slump in oil prices and the war on Yemen have left an impact on Saudi Arabia's ability to finance its public institutions. The kingdom announced a series of deep spending cuts last year to compensate for more than 100 billion of deficit it had anticipated for the 2017 budget.

Qatar, a large oil and gas exporter, has faced similar allegations about corruption over the past few years, especially in relation to its way of obtaining the rights for hosting the 2022 World Cup and how it has treated foreign workers in construction projects meant for the tournament.

Reports have also revealed Doha's role in funding militant groups in Syria, a country that has been grappling with unrest over the past six years.

Some sources say Qatar has spent tens of billions of dollars to assist anti-Syria militants, a policy which seems to have permanently failed in light of recent victories and gains by the government in Damascus against militant groups across the country.